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International Petition to President Ma: Stop Unjust Land Expropriation in Taiwan

President Ma: Stop Unjust Land Expropriation in Taiwan

July 29, 2013 by Trans-Pacific Environmental Action Network, Taiwan Rural Front

International petition to President Ma to stop unjust land grabbing launched by TEAN(Trans-Pacific Environmental Action Network)
Chinese petition to President Ma to stop unjust grabbing launched by Jeff Hou (University of Washington, Seattle)

Expropriation of land has been widespread in Asia in recent time. In name of development and urbanization, homes and farms of local people are destroyed in never-ending land grabs by authorities and developers. On July 18th this year, four homes in Dapu, Taiwan became the latest victims as they were torn down by the local government to make way for new urban development.

The case of Dapu has been the focus of a three-year long struggle by farmers and activists in Taiwan. Immediately after the demolition, protestors including students and supporters have followed President Ma, Vice-President and the Premier everywhere they appeared in public, even as they continued to ignore the protestors. In the face of growing protests with support by other civic groups, the police and national security forces have begun to push back. Just last week, Prof. Shih-Jung Hsu, a land economics faculty from National Chengchi University was arrested and detained after he waved his hands at the President’s motorcade, suffering bruises to his arms. Students and supporters have also been expelled from protest sites.

Although the homes in Dapu have been bulldozed, the movement against unjust land expropriation in Taiwan has just begun. Dapu is only one of many cases of local struggles against government and developers throughout the region. Support from the international community can stop the Taiwan government from further expropriation of people’s land and homes.

Please support the local communities and activists in Taiwan by signing on to the open letter to Taiwan President Ma Ying-Jeou.

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Open Letter

To:
Jiang Yi-Huah, Premier, Taiwan
MA Ying-Jeou, President, Taiwan
WU Den-Yih, Vice President, Taiwan

We are writing to express our outrage against the recent demolition of homes in Dapu and the unjust expropriation of land in Taiwan. The incident in Dapu was tragic and unnecessary. Planning documents have shown that the four homes were far outside the planned industrial park, for which there was already a low demand. The expropriation and demolition was therefore unjustified.

We are equally dismayed by the recent arrest and expulsion of peaceful protestors by excessive police force In Taiwan. Article 20 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights supports the right of every individual to freedom of peaceful assembly and association. Article 17, Section 2 further states that no one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his property. As a democratic nation, Taiwan must serve as an example to the region rather following the footsteps of others in violating the people’s rights to property and freedom of speech and assembly.

We call on you and the Taiwan government to:

Stop land grabbing immediately — The current mode of development, which strips people from their rights to property, subsistence, and a healthy environment, is a regressive one. Such mode of national development must not be stopped.

Revise the Land Expropriation Act and stop all expropriation before the revision is done — Land expropriation must be predicated on the public interest, and the fulfillment of the public interest requires the most stringent administrative procedures with full participation of local residents.

Stop excessive force against peaceful protestors — The recent police response to peaceful protests has breached international human rights standards and must be stopped. Any decision to disperse an assembly should be taken only as a last resort and in line with the principles of necessity and proportionality.

Protect protestors’ rights of peaceful assembly and freedom of expression — The authorities must carry out a prompt, independent and impartial investigation into the allegations of excessive and unnecessary use of force, and ensure that any law enforcement officials responsible for arbitrary or abusive use of force are prosecuted.

Sincerely,
[Your name]

Please take a moment to do the following:

1. Sign on to the open letter to Taiwan President Ma on change.org
2. If you are a planning and design professional or scholars, please include the name of your university or organization in the address line.
3. Forward this message to your colleagues and friends, and ask them to sign on as well.

Read more about the Dapu Controversy and Civil Resistance:

1. Solidarity Appeal from Taiwan Rural Front and Dapu Controversy in Context

On 18th July 2013, hundreds of police officers returned and razed the residents’ homes, while the house owners were away pleading with the central government to stop demolition as the expropriation decision is still contested in court. The thuggish behavior of the police and government triggered spontaneous civil disobedience protests by ordinary citizens across Taiwan. The police responded with undue violence and repression. Many people were detained and prosecuted, and many injured….

2. Professor and students arrested in protest against forced-demolitions

by I-fan Lin from Global Voices

“What is public interest? The Grand Judge, Wu Keng, once pointed out “A consensus through public deliberation in a diverse society” is public interest. However, our urban planning system has not incorporated such concept or process. Thus our basic human right has been seriously violated…”

(http://globalvoicesonline.org/2013/07/25/taiwanese-professor-arrested-in…)

3.Rappers, directors join Dapu demolition protests

by Shelley Shan from Taipei Times

Leon Dai (戴立忍), who won best director at the Golden Horse Awards for his movie No Puedo Vivir Sin Ti (不能沒有你): “Our government has dispatched so many policemen to help tear down people’s houses and remove protesters from the sites who only wanted to speak the truth.”…

4. Taiwan’s Handicap

by J. Michael Cole from The Far-Eastern Sweet Potato

Taiwan is in dire need of international attention! Still it might be a while before the world realizes that a serious battle is being fought in Taiwan… “the Ma government is showing signs of impatience. It, or investors and developers close to it, want the precious plots now, and the treatment reserved those who stand in the way has on several occasions led to what can only be characterized as human rights violations.”…

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